4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW:
Box Office $20.51 million;
$25.99 DVD, $31.99 Blu-ray, $35.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for strong language, some war action/violence, and smoking.
Stars Jonathan Majors, Glen Powell, Christina Jackson, Thomas Sadoski, Daren Kagasoff, Joe Jonas, Spencer Neville, Nick Hargrove, Boone Platt, Dean Denton, Thad Luckinbill, Serinda Swan.
The story of Jesse Brown, one of the U.S. Navy’s first black aviators, is told in Devotion, a film that could almost pass for a 1950s version of Top Gun were it not based on actual events with some tragic overtones.
Jonathan Majors stars as Brown, the first African-American aviator to finish the Navy’s basic flight training program and the first black naval officer killed in the Korean War.
The film begins with Brown’s time training with his squadron in Rhode Island, where he meets fellow pilot Lt. Tom Hudner, played by Glen Powell. They are assigned as each others’ wingmen, sparking what would become a brief but strong friendship.
The fact that Powell appears as a pilot here in such proximity to his role as an aviator in Top Gun: Maverick is one source of the film’s proto-Top Gun vibes; the other is that Devotion used Top Gun: Maverick’s stunt coordinator to create fantastic aerial footage using vintage fighter planes such as the F4U Corsair, with the actors filmed in real planes in flight, just like Top Gun: Maverick.
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The biggest chunk of the movie is their time training for potential conflict with the Soviet Union during the early days of the Cold War. Brown, who is married and raising a young daughter, must also contend with the racism of the day. Another pilot raises a comparison to Jackie Robinson, and it wouldn’t be too out of line to liken the film to an aviation version of 42.
Soon enough, the squadron is called to duty in the early days of the Korean War, where Brown’s eagerness to demonstrate his skills as a combat pilot get him into trouble on more than one occasion.
Most of the first two-thirds of the film, however, are fodder to set up the emotional stakes of Brown’s final mission, in which he is forced to crash land behind enemy lines, while Hudner tries to rescue him.
Well shot, acted and backed by a strong musical score, Devotion is both an entertaining film and a solid depiction of military history that should appease aviation enthusiasts and general audiences alike.
The home video editions include two informative featurettes: The 11-minute “The Aviation of a Forgotten War” focuses on the making of the film and the use of real planes, while the 12-minute “The Legacy of Jesse Brown” is more of a profile of the central character and what his legacy meant to those making the film.